It was when we were still poor that we bought them. How touching it is to look at them, those poor, dear toys!
I can’t help it, I must take them in my hands. Here’s the horse with the tail torn off. Hop, hop, horsie! Where are you galloping off to? I’m going far, far away, papa, to where the fields are and the green woods. Take me along, horsie. Hop, hop, hop! Sit down, dear papa. And there’s the soldier’s cap, the cheap cap I tried on myself in fun when I bought it. Who are you? I’m a knight, papa. I’m the bravest, the strongest knight. Where are you going, my little knight? I’m going to kill the dragon, dear papa. I’m going to free the captives, papa. Go, go, my little knight. (The Wife cries) And there’s our everlasting clown, with his kind, stupid face. But how ragged he is, as if he had come out of a hundred frays. Tinkle, friend, the way you used to tinkle. What, you can’t? Only one bell left, you say? Well, I’ll throw you on the floor. (Throws down the toy)
What are you doing? Remember how often our boy kissed his funny face.
Yes, that was wrong of me. Forgive me, friend, forgive me. (He bends down with difficulty and picks up the clown) Still laughing? Don’t. I’ll put you away, out of sight. Don’t be angry, I can’t bear your smile now. Go and laugh in a place where I can’t see you.
It breaks my heart to hear you speak like that. Believe me, our son will get well. It wouldn’t be just if the young were to die before the old, would it?
Just? Where have you ever seen justice, wife?
Please, dear husband, I beg you, kneel down beside me, and let us both pray to God.
It’s hard for an old man to bend his old knees.
Bend them. You should—you must.
He will not hear me, He whose ear I’ve never troubled with either praise or entreaty. You pray. You are the mother.
You pray—you are the father. If a father is not to pray for his son, who is? To whom are you leaving him? Can one person tell the same things in the same way as the two of us together?
Very well. Maybe eternal justice will answer the prayers of an old man who bends his old knees.
[Both go down on their knees, their faces turned to the corner where the Unknown stands motionless; their arms are folded over their breasts while they pray.